Essay Terms Directives

A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.

You don't need to have an advance directive or living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders.

To establish DNR or DNI orders, tell your doctor about your preferences.

In some states, advance health care planning includes a document called physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST).

The document may also be called provider orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) or medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST).

When you have completed your documents, you need to do the following: You can change your directives at any time.

If you want to make changes, you must create a new form, distribute new copies and destroy all old copies.

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A POLST is intended for people who have already been diagnosed with a serious illness. Instead, it serves as doctor-ordered instructions — not unlike a prescription — to ensure that, in case of an emergency, you receive the treatment you prefer.

Your doctor will fill out the form based on the contents of your advance directives, the discussions you have with your doctor about the likely course of your illness and your treatment preferences. If you are in a hospital or nursing home, the document is posted near your bed.


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